Lea Michele on ‘Glee’ finale: ‘It became so much more than a musical comedy’
On Friday, Fox’s “Glee” will sing its last note.
The musical comedy about a high-school glee club proved that musical comedy could work in prime time, reintroduced rock classics like “Don’t Stop Believing” to a new generation and touched off a show-choir phenomenon at schools nationwide.
It also made a star of Lea Michele, who starred as the socially awkward but vocally powerful Rachel Berry. Showtracker reached her by phone to discuss her thoughts on “Glee’s” end. An edited version follows:
Lea, how does it feel to be ending the run?
I couldn’t be happier with the work I did on the show. “Glee” was a very specific, unique experience that leaves me feeling like I can achieve anything that comes my way. We did endure a very rigorous schedule for almost seven years. I’m going to look back years from now and be like, “How the hell did I do that?”
Prior to “Glee,” musical comedy hadn’t worked particularly well in prime time. What was it that fans responded to?
For me growing up, there weren’t a lot of television shows out there where I could say, “Oh, this person looks like me. Or they have a life sort of like mine.” There was something and someone for everyone on our show. And then obviously music. I was raised with music playing in my house. My mother was always listening to Aretha Franklin, my dad was always listening to Queen and Journey. Having such a huge musical presence was probably what originally brought people to the show. But as it progressed, it became so much more than a musical comedy.
It was really this generation’s game-changer. What it did for kids, opening up dialogues between them and their parents, as well as bringing attention to arts education was so unbelievable for a little one-hour comedy on Fox.
“Glee” is famous for popularizing show-choir covers of classic pop and rock songs. Are there young fans who still think you guys created those tunes?
Yeah, that happens. There are a lot of girls who think that “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is my song, and not Barbra Streisand’s. But I’m beyond proud that we were able to bring those classic rock songs and make them fresh and current.
What were your favorite moments from the past six seasons?
I will always remember the pilot episode. Singing “Don’t Stop Believing” with the original kids. That will be forever frozen in my mind. Everything from then on was just this whole sort of spinning.
Another big moment was when we filmed our Season 2 finale. We all flew to New York. Just a year prior, working on Broadway, I could walk down the street, do whatever I wanted and no one knew my name. Now I was in Central Park shooting “Glee” and there’s 300 fans surrounding us. That was pretty unbelievable.
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